Over the month of September, many guests arrived at Villa il Renaccio in Tuscany just outside of Certaldo for our Villas of Italy: Tuscan Adventure, a 10-day all-inclusive tour experience.
Il Renaccio sits equidistant between Florence and Siena on a beautiful hill surrounded by vineyards and olive orchards. There were days of trips into the Tuscan countryside to visit small farms and wineries of friends we’ve made over these many years. We travelled to towns and cities; Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, Volterra, Pienza, Castellina, Certaldo Alto and even ventured out of Tuscany for a day to Riomaggiore and Manarola in Cinque Terre, and on our way home we stopped to see the Carrara Marble Quarry. We saw the art, we tasted the cuisine, we drank fine wines, we met the Italian people up close and personal, we sat in their homes and broke bread with them over meals they prepared, all with ingredients from their farms. We experienced the Italian culture the way I wanted our guests to experience it. I wanted them to see and live the Italy I see and love. I hope it allowed them to reconnect with their purpose in life the way it always does for me when I return.
When in Italy I am quickly reminded of my purpose. Riding the trains I revel in gazing out the window, hoping to spot a vineyard, an ancient building, or a hill top town in the distance. As I take in the view, in between mountain passes, the cypresses, the fields of my favorite girasole, I feel a sense of rightness in my soul. Our trips are full of moments like that, moments of surrender and revelation.
Whether in Rome, walking the same streets St. Paul strolled, taking in the sights at sunset of the Colosseum, imagining what life must have been like for those living there two thousand years ago. We eat margherita pizza with a caprese salad by the Pantheon . . .
Or in Florence, eating chocolate and hazelnut gelato on the historic Ponte Vecchio and haggling with merchants at the San Lorenzo market, buying souvenirs and Christmas gifts for family. Eating a lunch of porchetta and pasta with a good Chianti Classico.
Or in Venice navigating the city on the sea, riding the vaporetti, crossing the hundreds of cobblestone bridges to visit friends, stopping once again in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to see the Assumption of the Virgin high altar piece by Titian that I cannot ever get out of my head, and visiting with friends, laughing, eating, drinking . . .
It’s easy for us to get stuck in a rut and let our priorities fall out of order, to believe we live to work instead of the other way around. It’s tempting to get caught up in endless pursuits of celebrity and fame and trying to impress others. But none of those things satisfy. Because even when you do what you love, when you’re living your calling, you can’t forget that there’s always a greater why behind what you do. There has to be a life behind the work, something that’s bigger than you, a cause to guide you. As we stroll the dimly lit lanes of Italy, hand in hand with our hearts and stomachs full, I remember mine, and I hope our Tuscan Adventure helps our guests remember theirs.
We hope to see you at the villa soon. Remember, we travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Guest blog courtesy of Tony M. at www.italianvillavacation.com